Thursday, 24 October 1991
Dáil Éireann Debate
127. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications whether there has been any indications from the EC Commission in relation to funding for a Sea Bridge investment given Ireland's peripherality; when the anticipated funds from the regional fund will become available for investment in ships; the discussions, if any, which have taken place about these matters in the context of the proposed merger between the B & I Line and the Irish Continental Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): Arising out of negotiations following submission of the National Development Plan 1989-93 to the EC Commission on 22 March 1989 the Commission agreed that subject to the results of a feasibility study, investments in sea and air freight services might be considered.
The access transport study, completed in July 1990 by KPMG Stokes Kennedy Crowley on behalf of the Irish Government and the EC Commission, found that while investment in internal transport facilities was necessary, it was not sufficient to cater for Ireland's unique peripherality problems. Substantial additional investment in access transport services was needed.
In the Operational Programme on Peripherality published in November 1990, the Irish Government and EC Commission undertook to examine the conclusions of the study and possibilities for co-financing by the community of the access transport investment measures identified by the consultants.
Following detailed consideration of the consultants' findings by a high-level interdepartmental group, I made a formal application on behalf of the Government on 27 May 1991, for EC grant aid for mobile assets. Both myself and the Minister for the Marine have had formal meetings with the relevant Commissioners to advance our application and seek a quick decision.
 Officials of both our Departments have been in constant contact with EC officials dealing with the matter. The Commission has informed us that they hope to give a decision on our application by the end of November.
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